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Before you go back-to-college shopping, check your school’s website to see if it has a list of what to pack and, maybe even more important, what not to. You’ll save money, free up some precious car space, and stay out of trouble—at least on move-in day.

A Money survey of more than 50 colleges found that virtually all forbid halogen lamps in student dorm rooms, calling them a potential fire hazard.

Many schools also ban:

  • Multi-head lamps with plastic shades
  • String lights, such as miniature Christmas lights
  • Extension cords
  • Cooking appliances, such as hotplates and toaster ovens
  • Air conditioners or space heaters
  • Electric blankets
  • Candles and incense
  • Waterbeds
  • Darts and dartboards
  • Firearms or any other weapons, including paintball guns
  • Pets (some colleges make an exception for goldfish, but check on the allowable tank size, which varies widely).


Other schools have additional, and sometimes unusual, items on their leave-it-home lists. For example, Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass., a suburb of Boston, recommends not bringing “any paraphernalia supporting the New York Yankees.” (Sounds wise to us...)

For more useful tools and tips for college-bound students and their parents, check out the new Money College Planner. And if you’re still in the process of picking a college rather than packing for one, see our Find Your Fit tool.